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Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer says Jamaica has been praised internationally for its management of the Influenza A(H1N1) outbreak. Minister Spencer was speaking at the 63rd annual educational conference of the Association of Public Health Inspectors held at the Iberostar Rose Hall hotel in Montego Bay St. James today (Tuesday, October 27, 2009). Minister Spencer pointed out that the country had treated the situation as a national emergency as soon as the World Health Organisation (WHO) alerted countries to the outbreak in late April this year. “We activated our National Emergency Operations Centre immediately and it has since remained active. We ramped up our surveillance and monitoring mechanisms and had all our health workers on board to manage the disease as part of our strategic plan a month before the country even recorded its first laboratory confirmed cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Spencer is urging persons, particularly those who are at high risk for complications from Influenza A(H1N1) to listen to the advice of the medical persons and visit the doctor as soon as they begin to experience flu-like symptoms. These persons include pregnant women, persons with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, heart disease or any condition that impairs the immune system and children under five years old. “We are urging pregnant women in particular to ensure that they seek medical attention even if their symptoms are mild. We are now seeing an increase in the cases of flu-like illnesses and expect a second wave of the disease and so at this time, we need persons to view this as a serious matter and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from infection,” he said.
He says persons should continue to observe good hygiene practices including washing hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand sanitiser and covering nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing.
Individuals should also stay away from others who have symptoms of flu-like illness and stay home if they are ill for the period of illness and for at least 24 hours after fever has gone without the use of fever reducers. However, medical attention should be sought if symptoms persist, get worse or if persons fall within the high risk group for complications.
Jamaica now has one hundred and forty nine (149) laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza A(H1N1) and five (5) deaths. For more information, persons may call the Ministry’s toll free line at 1-888-ONE LOVE (1-888-663-5683) or contact their parish health department.

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